Why Do I Have to Wait 3 Months to Get My New Asphalt Seal Coated?

With proper care, your new asphalt parking lot can last you up to 30 years. In terms of value and durability, there is no better choice. However, new asphalt needs enough time to cool and dry before allowing traffic on it. It needs more time to cure before applying a sealant. Experts recommend that you wait at least three months – weather permitting.

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It is not unusual to wait up to six to nine months before sealing your asphalt parking lot, especially if you installed it in the fall. A warm summer day, towards the evening, is the best weather to apply a seal coat.

Unlike concrete that cures within the first few days of its installation, you can drive on new asphalt as soon as it's cooled and dried. But, there are too many variables to consider before giving an exact time frame to close your parking road or lot, such as:

  • The type of asphalt repair done
  • The air temperature
  • The ground temperature
  • The rollers' size used during the process

It's recommended to keep your new asphalt parking lot from being driven on for at least 24 hours, or in the very least, until the next morning.

Drying vs. Curing: What's the Difference?

While new asphalt requires months to fully cure after its placement, during which time it remains susceptible to damage, it only requires 24 to 72 hours to dry enough to allow foot and vehicle traffic. Resurfaced asphalt can dry in just a few hours.

You can drive on your new or resurfaced asphalt in a few hours, but it is best to wait at least overnight. When it comes to sealing your asphalt parking lot, you should wait for at least three months – depending on the present weather.

Both drying and curing processes are partially dependent on the weather. Ergo, extreme weather can delay the entire process, and it can also cause the asphalt to soften a little before it fully cures. The best time to lay it is during spring or early summer since you cannot do it when it is raining or snowing.

During freezing weather, the asphalt will start to harden even before the hired crew has finished working on it. This causes bumps or lumps in your pavement that you can only fix by starting over.

What Happens During the Curing Process?

The asphalt curing process involves the evaporation of its oil. When first placed, asphalt is black. Then as it ages, it starts turning gray slowly over time as it loses its oils due to heat from the sun in a process called oxidation. Oxidation is a good thing because asphalt initially has an excess amount of oil when it is first placed.

Since new asphalt has excess oil, when you stop a vehicle cold on it and then turn the power steering from that dead stop, you will cause a "power steering tear." Your vehicle will scrap up portions of the new asphalt surface. This situation is especially true for residential parking lots since you are more likely to maneuver the space to enter your garage.

What's the Recommended Time to Wait to Get Your New Asphalt Sealed?

After laying asphalt, you should wait at least 30 days before sealing your commercial parking lot. For residential parking lots, it is best to wait 90 days. Otherwise, you risk sealing your new asphalt before it is hard enough to withstand elements like power steering.

Why Wait for Your Asphalt to Cure Before Sealing?

If you seal your parking lot too early before it is cured, you risk sealing in the lightweight oils that make it flexible. As a result, your pavement or parking lot becomes susceptible to steering tears or imprints and tire marks from heavy and pointed objects.

What are the Challenges or Dangers of Sealing Asphalt Too Soon?

When you seal new asphalt, you stop the oxidation process. So, when you do it too soon, it causes your pavement to retain a lot of its asphalt oils that make it initially flexible.

Sealing your asphalt parking lot or pavement requires specific weather conditions. Therefore, you must be aware of the weather before beginning your project. Asphalt is susceptible to extreme weather, which negatively impacts the sealant's performance.

Since asphalt is pliable until it fully hardens or cures, it's best to follow its proper maintenance routine. Note the following:

  • Avoid parking your vehicles in the same spots every time.
  • Avoid parking bicycles and motorcycles on your parking lot to prevent kickstands from penetrating the surface.
  • Never sit in one spot on your parking lot and turn the power steering on your vehicle or even a riding mower. Doing so may leave behind marks and ruts.
  • Never drive off your parking lots' edges with any car or riding mower because they need time to set up.
  • Backfill the sides of your parking lot with topsoil and seed your grass flush with your parking lot. Failure to do this on time could result in the cracking of the exposed edges.
  • Avoid driving on new asphalt with heavy construction equipment.
  • Water beads up on new asphalt just like on a freshly waxed car, but it will stop once it cures.
  • Immediately clean oil spots and regular unleaded gasoline spills because they can stain asphalt and give it a gummy feel over time. Spray Purple Power or Simple Green on stains immediately.
  • Diesel fuel spills destroy asphalt by breaking down its binders and causing holes.
  • Clean your asphalt surface of any leaves and debris after the fall and spring seasons. 
  • Over time, temperature changes will cause the ground to contract and expand, causing cracks. This is the first step in asphalt deterioration, so you need to inspect it regularly and have a professional fill the cracks to prevent further deterioration and water damage.

Giving your asphalt enough time to cure before sealing is an essential step in the paving process. Contact us at Empire Parking Lot Services or call us today at 714-633-0300 to schedule your appointment or have our experienced team help with your next asphalt project. Please check out our "Anatomy of a Parking Lot" blog for a more in-depth view of what makes up a parking lot.

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